As the proud descendant of Irish immigrants, I feel a special connection to the country of my heritage. I have always admired the grit of the Irish people, who have a long history of overcoming hardships and emerging stronger than ever. Maybe there’s a little luck to it, but I believe that the tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit of the Irish is what makes Ireland not only a great place to do business but a growing force for good in the global economy.
Ireland has worked hard to carve out its own place, identity, competencies, and unique role in the world. Its leaders have leveraged its advantages, including a competitive workforce, a business-friendly climate, and its position as a gateway to Europe. They’ve made smart public policy decisions that have helped boost exports and attract high-value economic development in the industries of the future. It’s because of these efforts—and not merely luck—that Ireland’s economy continues to outperform all of its European peers, posting an impressive 4.8% growth in 2014.
The United States has long rooted for Ireland’s success because it’s one of our most valued commercial partners, and we’re very invested in its economy. According to a new report by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, the Emerald Isle is a top global destination for U.S. foreign direct investment. U.S. companies have invested more than $277 billion in Ireland since 1990—more than the United States has invested in Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined. In turn, Irish companies now have a record $27 billion invested in the U.S. Economy.
As strong economic partners, we can help lead exciting new efforts to expand the trade relationship between the United States and all of Europe. The sweeping new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was launched when Ireland held the presidency of the EU. If completed, it would drive jobs and growth on both sides of the pond and give Europe the economic lift it needs. The United States and Ireland both have a big stake in TTIP, and we must continue to work together to champion its benefits and ensure its success.
We’ll have the opportunity to deepen U.S.-Ireland ties this week as the United States welcomes Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to our nation’s capital, including stops at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House.
No doubt, many Americans will be thinking of Ireland tomorrow as they don their green and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But let’s not forget what’s really worth celebrating—the vibrant relationship between two countries linked by heritage, optimism, entrepreneurship, and the opportunity to do good in the global economy.